By Juan Vasquez
After Set, god of darkness, usurps the throne from his brother Osiris and blinds his nephew Horus, he takes control of the mortal world and enslaves most of Egypt. Bek, a mortal thief turned slave attempts to escape with his wife Zaya, who is killed in the process. Afterwards Bek takes her body to a nearby temple of Horus where he meets the god, blinded and destitute. After striking a deal with Horus, the two of them go off to find a way to defeat set and revive Zaya.
The acting is subpar. The film had received a ton of controversy in regard to using mostly white actors in an ancient Egypt setting. And while I highly doubt that this would have made the film better, it certainly would have made the film historically accurate at least. Set’s accent (played by the Scotsman Gerard Butler) did nothing to convince me that he was an Egyptian god.
Arguably the second most important aspect in the film, the cinematography is rendered quite beautifully. A vast majority of the scenes are supposed to induce a sort of claustrophobic, dizzying sensation (especially during the fight scenes). Occasionlly during the fight scenes the director will through in a 360 degree slow motion shot not just for the dramatic tension but for the “rule of cool.” The director breaks the 180 degree rule of editing multiple times during the film to create this effect. I would say that the director does this to represent the hurly burly of close quarters combat and the danger that the characters face.
The film also makes heavy use of CGI not only to render the monsters, but the gritty splendor of fantastic Ancient Egypt. The CGI was also used to make the gods appear much taller than what they actually are, which is supposed to add to their godliness.
I believe color is the most important aspect of this film because it highlights the most important theme of this film: greed. Gold is very obvious color; from the golden sands of the Sahara (cough, cough, Australian) desert to the golden treasures in Set’s palace. Gold represents not only the divinity of the gods but also of Set’s greedy nature and the wishes of the people to be freed from his tyranny. Now a bit of explanation: when Set usurped the throne from Osiris, he proclaimed that the only way mortals can reach the afterlife is through a sacrifice of riches. The rich nobles get a much easier path to the afterlife than the common folk does. This is why I believe that the color gold plays an important role in the film.
Being that this film is an action film, the editing is much more fast paced than in a drama or a romance film. The film also makes an editing blunder as well : After Hathor and Horus get out of Set’s pyramid, Hathor puts her left hand to the side of Horus’s head. When the camera is looking at her two of her fingers are on Horus’s ear. But when the camera is looking at Horus, all of her fingers are below his ear. This happens repeatedly during this scene. Otherwise the editing is fine and does a good job in showing the franticness of the film.
Fictional and Dramatic Elements
The film is essentially a ancient egypt inspired action-fantasy film. The plot lacks any sort of complexity. It is a simple story that is filled with romance, vengeance, and redemption. The plot, therefore, is really simple to follow as Bek and Horus attempt to defeat Set and bring back Zaya from the Land of the Dead. The director Alex Proyas tends to work with these types of films; high in action and little in substance.
The vast majority of scenes are remarkably well lit, even in dark places. I guess that this was supposed to represent the optimism that the heroes can defeat Set and bring Horus back into power.
Sound Effects and Dialogue
These are nothing to gawk over. The sound effects are not used as transitions and is only used as foreshadowing once, when Set’s huntsmen are riding on their giant cobra mounts. This accomplished by having the cobras sound like a sandstorm. Dialogue is unimportant in this film and the narration in the beginning and end shows us what happens before and and after the events of the film. The sound effects are used to add more menace to the big bad monster or to add tension to a fight scene. One such example of this is the final battle between Horus and Set when Horus has to chose between retrieving his second eye or saving Bek, the film emphasizes on the clattering of his eye. I thought that this was a clever use of showing how for a brief moment, Horus was tempted to save his eye.
I watched this film with my mother and even she agreed that the film was a waste of both money and brain cells. The acting was terrible, you needed to have some knowledge of Egyptian mythology to even comprehend the film, and it uses a ton of CGI and decent fight scenes to make up for its terrible performance. Ultimately, it is not a movie that has any form of merit and is not even worth mentioning when talking about film. In sum, this was an incredibly awful film.